As soon as we were back at work we were straight back into our Deep Clean, finishing the top floor and moving into the Entrance Hall. However we’re not just thinking about the closed season, we have already begun preparing for projects happening after we open again!
In spring this year another of our Gideon tapestries will be going away for conservation, so to save ourselves a bit of work in the future we decided to start getting things ready. We took all the portraits that were hanging over the tapestry down and have re-hung them all in other locations in the Long Gallery. There were seven portraits to be moved, making that total of portraits I have hung at Hardwick up to 19!
We have been spending an awful lot of time up scaffolding recently; which I really don’t mind. Some things we can do of our tall ladder but they are easier from the scaffold. Like dusting the two chandeliers that hang in the Long Gallery, so one person can hold and the other can dust.
I love the cheeky little chappie that stands on top of the chandelier too!
Then last week we had a very important delivery; our Besses were back! The two portraits and three textile pieces we had loaned to the National Portrait Gallery for an exhibition came home. It was a bit scary getting Elizabeth back in the building as it is such a large portrait and inside an even larger crate it was a somewhat unstable load. We just kept our fingers crossed the wind wouldn’t pick up and wheeled the crate up the main path and back into the Entrance Hall. Next; to get her up the stairs.
Luckily for us as part of the loan agreement it was decided we could hire specialists to carry Elizabeth back up to the Long Gallery. The Chaps were on stand-by for assistance and there were so many spectators she has a real royal procession as she was carried up the Main Stairs. After that the actual re-hand was a doddle!
She is now back in pride of place at the North end of the Long Gallery!
After steaming through all the work to be done on the top floor we were left with just one object that still needed cleaning; the High Great Chamber Canopy!
We are so pleased to be able to clean this now, after having been trained up by Blickling Conservation Studio. We had been saying for months that it was looking dusty so it was really satisfying to get the dust off, which had been sitting on the folds of the velvet. Now that the team are trained to clean more delicate textile items it means our collection can get more of the attention it needs without so much of a wait. However we must still be very careful not to clean anything to often for fear of causing further damage than would be done by leaving it.
A special mention to my awesome Chaps for their endless hard work, making this job even more enjoyable, and for their photography skills meaning I have plenty of pretty pictures to nab and use on my blog! It’s been a very busy couple of weeks but I’m hoping 2014 continues like this as I will never get bored! I may however be very tired, a little achy, but with a deep sense of satisfaction at least!
I bet QE1 was having a little chuckle to herself, still has a retinue at her beck and call four hundred years after her death… Wonderful to see more of your hands-on experience at Hardwick – look forward to more in 2014.